New Delhi, June 6 (ANI): Sky watchers across India witnessed a rare astronomical event of planet Venus passing directly between the Sun and Earth on Wednesday, a transit that won't occur again until 2117.
Transits of Venus happen in pairs eight years apart, with more than a century between cycles. During the pass, Venus appeared as a small, dark round spot moving across the face of the sun, like a bug on a dinner plate.
People in New Delhi were thrilled to witness this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and left no stone unturned to catch a glimpse of the celestial transit, as it is the last such passing that is visible from Earth for 105 years.
"We have come here to witness this historical moment, because we will get an opportunity again only after 105 years. So, we wanted to grab this lifetime opportunity," said Yash Sinha, a sky gazer.
Some children clearly viewed the orange dot (Venus) on the sun and could not stop gushing about the memorable sight.
"When I wore the glasses, I saw an orange spot on the sun. That was Venus, but it vanished after sometime," said Vishu, a student.
This transit, which bookends a 2004-2012 pair, began at 6:09 p.m. EDT (2209 GMT) and lasts for six hours and 40 minutes. Times can vary by seven minutes depending on the location of the observer.
Skywatchers on seven continents, including Antarctica, are be able to see all or part of the Venus transit, with telescopes outfitted with solar filters to protect the eyes.
Meanwhile, some excited sky gazers made the effort of making cardboard eclipse glasses to witness this rare spectacle.
"We reached here and through my down device, I have made a device where I put many black glasses of 1.5 mm and I saw a dot on the sun, which was Venus. I could see it very clearly," said Reshmi Sharma, a teacher.
Similar sights were witnessed in other parts of the country like Bangalore and Chennai, where people congregated at planetariums and other sites to have a look at century's last Venus transit.
Telescopes, such as NASA's Kepler space telescope, are being used to find so-called extra solar planets that pass in front of their parent stars, much like Venus will pass by the sun. During the transit, astronomers will be able to measure Venus' thick atmosphere and use the data to develop techniques for measuring atmospheres around other planets.
Studies of Venus' atmosphere also could shed light on why Earth and Venus, which are almost exactly the same size and orbit approximately the same distance from the sun, ended up so different.
Venus has a chokingly dense atmosphere 100 times thicker than Earth's that is mostly carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that heats up Venus' surface to a lead-melting 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius).
The weather is brutal, with towering clouds of sulfuric acid that jet around the planet at 220 mph, regularly dousing the planet with acid rain.
During previous transits of Venus, scientists were able to figure out the size of the solar system and the distance between the sun and the planets.
This transit is only the eighth since the invention of the telescope, and it will be the last one until December 10-11, 2117. It also is the first to take place with a spacecraft at Venus. (ANI)